Oumuamua: what if it was an alien spaceship?

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Oumuamua: what if it was an alien spaceship?

It is the first object ever observed coming from outside the Solar System. Someone claims that it is an extraterrestrial spaceship … And to say that it would be so simple to verify it!

It was October 19, 2017, when the Hawaii Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System -1 (Pan-STARRS-1) announced the discovery of an “interstellar asteroid”, called 1I / 2017 U1 and nicknamed Oumuamua. On the basis of the exceptionally elongated and subtle form the news was born and spread that this object is not actually an asteroid, but an interstellar ship arrived from another solar system.

Thus, in recent weeks, the pressure has increased on the researchers, induced to study the object as much as possible before it goes back into interstellar space and is lost forever. Interest groups have even arisen who would like to start projects for sending a mission to Oumuamua.

The Breakthrough Initiatives (BI) has announced a plan to “listen” carefully to any signals that may come from the object. To search for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations, the Breakthrough Initiatives will use the Green Bank Radio Telescope.

The path of Oumuamua (dotted line) and the trajectory of the comets in the Solar System (clear line).

IT IS BACK TO HOME …

The studies conducted so far have allowed us to determine that the object has moved to the point closest to the Sun last September. Also, the object has passed close to the Earth. At a distance equivalent to about 85 times between the Earth and the Moon.

Now it is coming out of the Solar System at a speed of over 315,000 km per hour. Using ESO’s powerful telescopes, various groups of researchers were able to determine the color and brightness of the object. Values that made it possible to calculate its dimensions. Oumuamua seems to stretch for about 400 meters and have a diameter of about 40 meters. A “classic cigar shape”, typical of the best science fiction.

Not even a greeting!

The campaign of observations and listening to Breakthrough towards Oumuamua will start on December 13th with the 100-meter radio telescope. The antennas will follow him for about 10 hours plotting the ether between 1 and 12 GigaHertz. If there should be radio communications, they will certainly be captured.

The Green Bank Radio Telescope
The Green Bank Radio Telescope: in the coming days it will listen to Oumuamua.

If no signal will come from that object, the study will not be “lost time” anyway. It will give the possibility to analyze it at frequencies that until now have not been used.

But beyond all this, speculation and rumors, it is certainly also natural to wonder if it is possible that an interstellar ship may have approached our system and gone so, in this way, “without stopping.”

Improbable.

Very improbable. But it is not entirely to be excluded. After all, an alien ship might have take advantage of the slingshot effect of a “close pass” with the Sun to boost its motion towards its destination. And they might have had their own reasons for failing to pass in silence, unnoticed … Even scientists of the value of Carl Sagan have hypothesized the possibility of visiting interstellar ships from deep space.

However, there would be a very simple system to understand if that object is completely natural or if it is a spaceship. It would be enough to aim for a telescope that observes infrared. Any object within which there are activities must produce energy. In some way must be dispersed (expelled) by the object itself. At infrared, this energy would be easily observable.

An image of Oumuamua taken from the Wiyn Telescope.
An image of Oumuamua taken from the Wiyn Telescope.

 

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